Photo by h.koppdelaney
Humans indulge in activities that alter both the content and the experience of their own consciousness. Drugs are a means for achieving a number of particular, often recreational, changes in conscious experience. However, drugs are also a large contributor to, and facilitator of, human suffering and health problems. The best health advice anyone can give to most people most of the time regarding recreational drug use is this: “Do not use drugs”. Many people however, including me, do not find this advice particularly attractive, or even sensible. Assuming that a person wants to enjoy the mind-altering effects of psychoactive substances, two questions follows: which drugs are dangerous to use? And, more importantly - how can one know which drugs are more dangerous than others? The answer to both questions, of course, can be found through the illuminating lens of the scientific method.
Photo by Lapolab
”Critical thinking is a desire to seek, patience to doubt, fondness to meditate, slowness to assert, readiness to consider, carefulness to dispose and set in order; and hatred for every kind of imposture.“
~ Francis Bacon (1605)
Information constantly has, and still is, surrounding humans. Whether the information is in the stories and myths told by a respected elder in an ancient hunter-gatherer society or in ads on a modern website, prevailing questions begs to be answered: Is the information reliable? Can the source be trusted? Is there any hidden intentions? The only known principles for acquiring reliable and valid knowledge about the cosmos and everything within it are the scientific method. And the only way of successfully pursuing the scientific method is by thinking critically. Not only is critical thinking the very cornerstone of scientific inquiry, it is also a cognitive style – a way of thinking – that raises consciousness and opens minds. Being a critical thinker does not imply that one is supposed to criticize or deny every proposition that exists. Denying every claim regarding the universe is not being critical; quite on the contrary, it is systematic dogmatism - a methodical rejection that serves no function other than fueling ignorance. Instead, critical thinking means to look at all the available evidence and ask: is there any way that this could be wrong? If the answers seems to be “no”, then a light might be shed at the end of the intellectual tunnel. If the evidence is absent or inconclusive then admitting that one does not know, is the virtuous response of the critical thinker. The critically thinking mind is like science itself: always open to falsification in the face of new evidence.